In the wake of the major announcement made at the NAB Show recently about HD Radio, it is only appropriate to take a look at some of the fun new end user gadgets for bringing it into our homes. With that in mind, I’d like to point you towards Gary Krakow’s recent personal tech column on The Street, where he waxes eloquent on the subject. First he talks about HD sound quality:
HD stations sound different from their analog relatives. There is usually less background noise and much less interference that can be heard. That’s because the receiver “locks in” on the station’s digital component. In simple terms, just like digital TV broadcasts, a digital signal is either good or bad, on or off. If it’s not tuned in properly, it’s usually not enjoyable at all.
That said, digital HD radio signals can be more difficult to receive than their analog counterparts. Many listeners complain that they can receive their favorite FM station — but can’t “lock in” on the digital signal.
On the other hand, I live near WFUV-FM from Fordham University in the Bronx, which I cannot listen to at home because of interference. But, with an HD Radio tuner, it’s received perfectly.
After some background for those unfamiliar with the medium, he proceeds to take a look at some of the best new consumer electronics available for HD enthusiasts.
Of the Sangean HDT-1X he says:
Sangean makes all kinds of radios, not only under its own name, but also for other well-known brands. This AM-FM tuner is actually the company’s second try at an affordable HD tuner. The first, the HDT-1 (no X) was well received. But audiophiles — and specifically tuner-philes — played with the tuner and emphatically told Sangean what they liked and didn’t like.
Sangean actually listened.
He then goes on to detail the various improvements made to this model before he reviews the Rotel RT-1084, which he describes as a huge step upwards:
In addition to the big step-up in price, the Rotel provides listeners with a huge increase in perceived quality. The Rotel is a beautiful piece of audio jewelry, as well as a great-sounding tuner.
There’s less of a difference in sound quality between the analog and digital versions of the same station when you’re listening on the Rotel. In addition, this tuner seemed to have an easier time of locking-in on a digital signal.
Finally, he levies his opinion on the new DaySequerra M4C:
David Day is the undisputable king of FM tuners. He is the Day of DaySequerra, manufacturers of what some experts consider one of the best (and expensive) FM tuners ever made.
These days David is a big proponent of HD Radio. His company makes nearly all of the HD tuners that FM radio stations use to monitor their output. Therefore, David knows how good HD Radio can sound.
[…] As you might guess, the M4C is one heck of a tuner. I haven’t actually played with the latest ungraded version, but the version I had sounded direct, forceful and produced a lot of very high-quality radio playback.
In this group of HD tuners, the DaySequerra produced the least difference between similar analog and digital radio signals — a testament to David’s continuing quest for great FM sound. Very highly recommended.
Go take a look at his column and see the complete reviews and more info on these items.
Lots of new gear is debuting, and there will, be much, much more soon. Between the advances made on the industry side and the advances in home/auto technology, I think that 2008 will be a benchmark year for radio in general and HD in particular.
Come on everybody, tune in!